There are many ways to live and many ways to farm. Here at Kingfisher we try to live responsibly and farm with care for the earth without being dogmatic, knowing that we are all on a journey and our practices will change and grow over time! The word "sustainable" has often been applied to our way of farming. I feel that the minimum standard for sustainability means using methods that allow us to produce healthy crops without damaging our ecosystem and depleting the soil. The "even better" level, to which we aspire, is to leave our land even better than we found it!
To that end we spread lots of compost on our field every year, we use natural amendments to feed soil life and we grow cover crops which we incorporate back into the soil to build organic matter. We never spray synthetic chemicals on our land for the purpose of killing weeds, insects or diseases. We try to minimize soil disturbance and maximize biodiversity by planting a wide variety of vegetable crops in our fields and we see the wider community as allies in joining us to foster an environment of biodiversity that is beautiful, healthy for people, and attractive to all kinds of pollinators and other wild critters!
As promised, here’s Part 2 of the introduction to Kingfisher Farm Market:
Why do we farm?
What do you love about farming?
Every spring as a new season begins, I marvel at the miracle of seeds carrying all that life – and I’m excited again to see those first green shoots popping up. To be a steward of that process brings me a lot of joy and satisfaction! There are so many skills and so much background knowledge needed to bring a farm to life. There are complex ecological interactions, not to mention business, accounting, communications, mechanics, construction… Farming is a life-long journey of learning and even after 16 years I’ve got a long way to go. This excites me!
Why were you drawn to farming?
I have always loved working with growing things, even as a young boy I wanted to learn how to create the conditions for plants to flourish. As a kid, I built a compost bin and tended grapevines in our city yard. As a younger adult, I searched for a “vocation” that felt like a fit to me. I wanted to do something in my life that contributed to the well-being of the earth and all her inhabitants. Farming was something I could do that combined my passions for food and for growing things. It has felt like a hopeful way to build community and to bring healing and life to a small part of the earth. It continues to feel life-giving for me personally, even on those crazy days when there is a lot to do!
I am a person who really roots down where I am. During our time in East Vancouver, we were deeply connected to the people and the neighbourhood and when we moved out to South Surrey I wondered what would tether me. The vegetable farming all felt like Paul's thing (as he had been farming on this land since 2005) and I kind of like to have my own thing. Karin and I purchased a dairy cow and we learned the rhythms of farming; I spent my first few years here loving the practice of shoveling manure, milking, fencing and helping out with the vegetable farming as I was able. The flowers started as a hobby for me but I was pulled into the art of growing and designing them as I increased the amount I grew, learned what other farmers were doing and saw that I could possibly earn a living from flower farming. I have always been drawn to facilitating spaces of community engagement and connection so when the idea sprouted of hosting a market here at the farm, I was all in. I loved that we could connect with the neighbours and provide access to the beauty of this land and to healthy, tasty food. And here we are, 10 years later - farming and loving it.
Paul has cleaned up the maple sap buckets. It was a good harvest this year and the shelter was filled with the aroma of warm maple sugar as he boiled it down on the fireplace for days. It's one of our winter rituals. One of those things that Paul does for fun; connecting us with the rhythms of the season.
And now the days are lightening. I can hear the song of the frogs getting louder in the clear, dark evenings. The tulips are all pushing up through the frost covered earth, daring winter to come back. My kids are itching for spring break and a chance to run barefoot down to the river and use the tents they received for Christmas gifts. I know you are restless to eat fresh vegetables again, grown of this land. First will come the rhubarb and the sorrel, the asparagus and the nettles. As we wait for the soil to dry out, for seedlings to germinate; we will be attentive to the signs of spring.
What does hibernation look like on you?
“And then, pulled into her shell, encased in darkness, she settled into a deep stillness.” (Gayle Boss)
It sounds wonderful, but maybe I’m a little more like an opossum than a turtle - only managing 3 days of hibernation before needing contact with the outside world again. Each year it takes me until the first week of December to really sink into this hibernation season. My heart rate slows, my inner drive slows, I’ve spent a few days enveloped in a good novel and I’m fine with not spending my days outside. But if I’m really honest - a few days of that and I’m a bit restless. I love the steady paced, full list of things to do that the farming season brings me. I’m a planner, a do-er. But this season requires a different kind of attention. Attention to my heart, to what is making me impatient and frustrated with those around me (my dear family) and how to lower my expectations of myself - and others.
This hibernation season is really important as a farmer - I need to store up energy for the coming months.
What does your slowing down look like?
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